Published in Panhandler Issue 4
Beth Alice Cook is an interdisciplinary artist who experiments with collage, drawing, photography and performance. She is fascinated with human behavior, psychological theories, cultural differences and media trends. She graduated from the California College of the Arts with an MFA in 2005 and from Syracuse University in 2001 with a BFA in Photography and a BS in Communications. She lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
In graduate school, a professor told me that my artwork was too “emotional,” too “girly.” I thought, “Ok, I’ll give you ‘boy’ art.” The result was technical graphs, charts, and maps — though dealing with the same subject matter. At the time, the gesture was sort of a joke. All of the stories and classification systems I was employing worked better without photographic images; they became more universal, which was my original intention.
So now I am an artist of information graphics, among other things. I hope that people look at the “Hamburger Theory of Love” and picture what their mate might look like as a metaphorical hamburger. I hope that they think about what they have been getting out of relationships and notice what they have avoided or been missing. And maybe “no cheese” is the way they like things; now they know.
All of these works reference, and also play with, the institutions of psychology, sociology, science and popular culture. Occasionally I take my stories and inject them into systems that already exist, like the Solar System or an airplane safety card, and other times invent my own systems, rating sexual experiences, emotional investments and the quality of relationships, for example.
It seems that we all have a different way of viewing and interpreting ourselves, our relationships, and the world at large. I am interested in exploring how things look through various lenses, and sharing what things look like through the ones I often carry.
The following pages are a selection of drawings created over the past several years. They are my stories, but they are also yours, at least they could be — try them on for size.